There was a lot that happened with USF football after the fall semester including a bowl game, the early signing period and a massive change in the coaching staff and player roster.
Gilbert, Mattox go to McNeese State
Former USF offensive coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, was officially announced as McNeese State’s head coach Dec. 5, 2018, but he wasn’t the only piece of USF’s coaching staff to make the switch.
McNeese State announced Jan. 3, 2019 that former USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox would be the team’s new offensive coordinator.
Gilbert left the team before the Bulls faced off against Marshall in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, leaving an offensive play caller vacancy. Coach Charlie Strong gave the duties to Justin Burke, USF’s tight end and special team’s coach.
Although Burke was given extra responsibilities for the bowl game, it has yet to be announced who the Bulls’ offensive coordinator will be next season.
Kean, Oladokun and others to leave USF
The day after USF’s 38-20 bowl game loss, former USF backup quarterback Brett Kean announced on Twitter his plan to transfer after graduating from USF in May. One week later, USF’s other backup quarterback, Chris Oladokun also announced his intention to transfer to a different program.
Blake Barnett won the starting quarterback position after transferring to USF in the summer — after Kean and Oladokun established themselves as the top two players contending for the quarterback role. After Barnett earned the spot, Kean and Oladokun both took a backseat again.
Whenever Barnett was out, either with injuries or just taking a few plays to catch his breath, it was a toss-up between Oladokun and Kean for who would play.
Oladokun started a few games, but when he was in the game, it was only a matter of time before Kean got his turn.
“I will be transferring from the University of South Florida and have entered the transfer portal to be able to enroll at another university in January,” Oladokun said via Twitter. “Even though I may be starting a new chapter in my life, Tampa will ALWAYS be home for me.”
Barnett is set to return to USF next season, but with the departure of these two backups, fans could be asking themselves: “Who will play quarterback?”
It wasn’t just the quarterback position that will see some changes next season. After USF’s loss to Marshall, Strong told the Tampa Bay Times he planned a personnel house-cleaning.
“I’m telling you right now, we’re going to clean up this whole program,” Strong told the Tampa Bay Times. “A lot of guys will be leaving. We need a good washing.”
11 USF players were suspended from the team’s bowl game, including WR Darnell Salomon, WR Deangelo Antoine, RB Elijah Mack, RB Duran Bell and DB Naytron Culpepper. According to the Tampa Bay Times, none of the 11 players suspended from the game are likely to return in 2019.
Early Signing Period
The NCAA’s early signing period runs from Dec. 19 through 21 and USF inked 19 of their newest recruits during the three-day span when high school athletes decide where they will attend college.
Each of USF’s 19 signees were listed as three-star recruits, according to 247Sports. USF is listed on that website as the fourth strongest recruiting class in the AAC.
One of the more interesting stories of the first early signing day was that of Jahquez Evans, a 6-foot-2-inch, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback from Atlanta. Evans decommitted from USF Dec. 12 before an official visit to Cincinnati on Dec. 14. He was quiet until Dec. 19, when he signed his letter of intent with USF.
“There’s not going to be any surprises,” coach Charlie Strong told the Tampa Bay Times after the early signing period. “We know who we’re gonna get and it’s already done.”
The Bulls signed four offensive linemen, three linebackers, wide receivers, cornerbacks and defensive ends and just one running back, safety and quarterback.
The regular signing period for college football reopens Feb. 6.